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Fitou and Cotes de Thongue from 2006

September 19, 2011 Leave a comment

These are two affordable selections that pop up on the shelves at MacArthur’s from time to time.  The Domaine Montrose is available for $13 whereas the Domaine de Rolland is a little cheaper.  I would pass on the Domaine de Rolland and give the Domaine Montrose a go.  The later wine is a bit polarizing but if you like it then you have found a new bargain!

2006 Domaine de Rolland, Fitou
There are blue fruits and herbs in this light to medium bodied wine.  The fruit, acidity, and tannins are all in balance.  It was not particularly complex but left the impression of being at its peak.  I would drink sooner than later.  Pleasing but not exciting. ** Now.

2006 Domaine Montrose, La Balade des Lezards, VdP des Cotes de Thongue
This wine is a blend of 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah sourced from 50-year-old vines.  This wine drank well over two nights.  There was a medium garnet color and a nose of red, wacky fruit.  A unique set of red fruits with a bit of salt cheerfully exist in this medium-bodied wine.  It is still tannic but has a good amount of acidity.  Towards the end the tannins become drying as the entire package turns astringent.  I suspect this will chug along for several years to come.  This was not Jenn’s favorite. ** Now-2014.

Two German Rieslings from 2007

September 17, 2011 Leave a comment

We recently tried two estate selections from Weingut Schafer-Frohlich in Nahe and Weingut Schloss Lieser inMosel-Saar-Ruwer.  This means they grapes are sourced from the many different vineyards owned by the wineries.  According to the Rudi Wiest website Nahe “vineyards, can produce top Rieslings with citrus-like intensity and an explosive vibrancy unique in this region.”  Indeed these are two completely different wines!  The Schafer-Frohlich showed an apple and citrus profile while the Schloss Lieser showed sweet fruit of peach.

Vineyard at Bockenauer Felseneck, Image from Schafer-Frohlich

These are both Rudi Wiest Selections that I purchased at MacArthur’s.  The Schafer-Frohlich was purchased for $18 and the Schloss Lieser for $22.   I preferred the Schloss Lieser but I do not hesitate in recommending both wines for they demonstrate the interesting contrast between these two regions.  I think that the Schafer-Frohlich will show better in a few years but that the Schloss Lieser has more depth to the fruit.  Or maybe I prefer it because I am on a Mosel kick!

2007 Weingut Schafer-Frohlich, Riesling, Medium-Dry, Nahe
This Riesling  is sourced from vines grown on soils of blue slate, loess, loam, and weathered volcanic roack.  This wine is darker than the Schloss Lieser with its yellow color and gold tinge.  The moderate nose has aromas of cookie dough. In the mouth there are flavors of apple, pink citrus, then piercing acidity that prickles the tongue.  The flavors turn towards green apple in the finish.  On the second day there is good fruit that is riper midpalate with mouth coating acidity.  This become a shock to drink after the Schloss Lieser.  The wine leaves the impression of youthful clunkiness and should be cellared for several years. **(*) 2015-2022.

2007 Weingut Schloss Lieser, Riesling, Kabinett, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
This wine is a light yellow color.  There are some notes of match-stick with some stink at first.  But this eventually blew off.  There is a burst of ripe fruit in the mouth followed by spritz.  The fruit is almost sweet, like yellow peach, then the flavors slowly fall off as a slightly oily finish develops.  A good wine that is drinkable now but will age for some time. *** 2015-2022.

A Tasting at MacArthurs with Fran Kysela

September 16, 2011 2 comments

This past Saturday I managed to arrive at MacArthur’s in time for their afternoon tasting with Fran Kysela.  He was recently nominated by The Wine Enthusiast magazine for Wine Importer of the year.  Coupled with the fact that Jenn and I drink a lot of the wine he imports, I was particularly excited to attend.  Both Fran and Jeremy Sutton poured wine and chatted about the eclectic range of wine on offer from France, Germany, Australia, and South Africa.  The 11 wines ranged in prices from $11 to $32.  With such diversity there were surely favorites for all who attended.

The Lineup

I spent most of my time chatting with Jeremy, Phil, and eventually meeting Fran.  I was rather enjoying their company, myself, and the wine so I did not bother to take any formal notes.  I should hope that I get to taste wine with them again as they both amiable and there is much I could learn from Fran.  I have already posted notes on two of the selections, tasted at home from full bottles, and will eventually get notes up on some of the other selections.  My overall impression was one of good, fresh aromatics followed by clean, pure fruit flavors.  You may read about my individual impressions below.  I rather liked the Sancerre, went back for more of both Mordoree Liracs, felt the Thorn Clarke Quartage is a great bargain, and would like to restaste the Mullineux again in the near future.

2010 Jean Reverdy, La Reine Blanche, Sancerre
This was enjoyable with its aromatic floral nose and core of sweet fruit.  Not Rated.

2009 Gaudrelle, Clos de Vigneau, Vouvray
This is dry with hints of residual sugar with smooth flavors of stone fruits.  Not Rated.

2010 Bastgen, Riesling, Qba Blauschlefer, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
This was clean, fresh, leaning towards citrus flavors and some minerals.  I only had a tiny sip but this seemed like a solid wine for the price, if not exciting.  Not Rated.

2010 Mordoree, Rose, La Dame Rousse, Tavel
This sports ripe red fruit and has a lovely mouthing coating aftertaste.  Not Rated.

2009 Mordoree, La Dame Rousse, Lirac
This had been open for some time and was showing quite well.  You may read my impression of a bottle drunk in May hereNot Rated.

2009 Segries, Clos de l’Hermitage, Cotes du Rhone
This was consistent with an earlier impression of rich blue fruits, youthful tannins, and a contemporary profile.  Earlier this month we drank a bottle and I published a note hereNot Rated.

2009 Cave de Tain, Crozes-Hermitage
The weakest of the reds, reminded me of a light Crozes.  Available for $25 I would spend $3 to purchase the outstanding 2009 Colombier, Cuvee GabyNot Rated.

2009 Mordoree, La Reine des Bois, Lirac
This was lovely and quite approachable.  Richer than La Dame Rousse but with primary red fruit, a creamier texture, and balance.  This will age for some time.  Not Rated.

2008 Thorn Clarke, Shotfire, Quartage, Barossa Valley
This was soft, savory, subtle with dark fruits.  Strong value.  We recently drank a bottle and I will post a note soon.  Not Rated.

2009 Thorn Clarke, Shotfire, Shiraz, Barossa Valley
This showed black fruit, youthful flavors, richer than the Quartage but less evolved.  I preferred the Quartage.  Not Rated.

2008 Mullineux,  Syrah, Swartland
This showed dark fruit, some herbs, plenty of acidity, structure from oak but in a balanced manner.  I was rather surprised and pleased.  Tasted blind I would not have guessed South Africa.  Not Rated.

The 2011 Nederburg Auction

September 16, 2011 Leave a comment

The 2011 Nederburg Auction is taking place today and tomorrow.  Local wine blogger David White, founder and editor of Terroirist is delivering the keynote address. I like to look at images of old bottles of wine so I put together a gallery of six bottles. You may find notes about these wines in the auction catalog which is available for download on the main site.

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2004 Mourchon, Grande Reserve and 2005 Grand Veneur, Les Champauvins

September 16, 2011 2 comments

These two bottles were purchased this summer at MacArthur’s after they completed their annual inventory.  I always make sure to peruse their online inventory for bargains.  Having drunk other vintages there was no thought required to purchase the 2004 Mourchon, Grande Reserve for $17 and the 2005 Grand Veneur, Les Champauvins for $13.  The Mourchon was imported by MacArthurs and the Grand Veneur was imported by Kysela Pere & Fils.  We drank several bottles of the Grand Veneur that showed some bottle variation.  At best this is a wonderful drink and an absolute steal at the price.  The good wines of Cotes du Rhone and Cotes du Rhone Villages really do age for five to ten years.  Make sure you squirrel away the 2009s and 2010s that are currently available.

2004 Domaine de Mourchon, Grande Reserve, Seguret, Cotes du Rhone Villages
This bottle was interesting.  It was still youthful with light tannins throughout.  The fruit started out with puckering red flavors that changed to blue fruits with spicy notes before the finish.  The texture was gritty.  With air, incense developed along with buttered pumpkin notes.  Jenn noted a “Pilsner beer aftertaste” that mixed with the smoke flavor.  This does not have the power nor the tannins of the other vintages.   You may find my post on the 2005-2007 vintages here. *** Now-2015.

2005 Domaine Grand Veneur, Les Champauvins, Cotes du Rhone
This was drunk over two nights.  On the second night there were flavors of blue fruits, stones, some roasted earth, and a little wood.  This was not lush but structured in a pleasing manner.  The aftertaste left impressions of dusty herbs.  I would drink this over the next several years.  You may find my post on the 2009 here. *** Now-2015.

2003 Saint Joseph from Alain Paret and Eric & Joel Durand

September 15, 2011 Leave a comment

We laid down a respectable amount of wine right before our daughter was born.  But the expensive daycare costs of the Washington, DC area require us to now drink everything we purchase.  When we do not want to drink from our dwindling cellar we can still purchase from the stocks of aged Rhone wine that are still available.  We have drunk many different bottles of Saint-Joseph over the last two years.  Both of these wines are from the 2003 vintage which started off with some crop reducing frosts then wrapped up with high heat that caused blockage.  This produced big, rich wines that are just coming into their own.

Vineyard Near Chateaubourg, Image by Alain Cachat (Flickr)

If you follow my posts and are willing to spend $25-$35 on a recent release then I suggest you also purchase some of the older wines that I recommend.  The Eric & Joel Durand was recently purchased at MacArthur’s but it no longer available.  The Alain Paret was imported by Robert Kacher Selections and is still available at MacArthur’s for $24. While we have enjoyed the modern Durand in the past, this time we both preferred the Alain Paret.  It is just reaching middle-age so give it several hours of air.  This wine is particularly expressive of the granite found in the Saint-Joseph vineyards.

Four years ago I made a concerted effort to start drinking older Rhone wines.  I had difficulty finding any online tasting notes of these older, less expensive bottles.  I found them particularly enjoyable so I started sharing my discoveries by posting online.  I recommend that you join me by drinking a bottle of the Alain Paret then let me know what you think!  If you prefer to stick to a lower price point then cellar some of the recommended current releases.  Many of these wines will develop with some age.

2003 Eric & Joel Durand, Les Coteaux, Saint-Joseph
The Durand Saint-Joseph vineyards are very steep and contain vines planted in 1978-1980 at Chateaubourg and younger vines planted in 1990, 1998, and 200 at Glun.  The vineyards are fertilized with cattle dung, cocoa powder, and grape marc.  The Cuvee Les Coteaux is aged for one year in 75% one to four year old casks and 25% stainless steel.  The 2003 vintage is also the first year they produced the Cuvee Lautaret which is made from fruit sourced from a prime plot Lauraret in Chateaubourg.   There is a nose of youthful purple berries and some spice.  In the mouth there are purple and red berries, lifted blue fruits in the finish, and ample tannins.  On the second night there is a hard edge to the fruit while modern spices comes out while the ample tannins dry out the fruit.  The fruit fades in the finish and hints of heat come out. *** Now-2017.

2003 Domaine Alain Paret, Rochecourbe, Saint-Joseph
Alain Paret first purchased a vineyard in Coteau de Rochecourbe which was planted in 1974.  Since then he has expanded to 15 hectares.  He stopped using insecticides in 2001 and grows grass on his lower slopes to prevent erosion.  I believe this is a cuvee made for Robert Kacher.  This wine is slow to unveil.  It is lightly perfumed of dark, blue fruits.  The aromas continue in the mouth with good notes of hard stone, salivating acidity, an enjoyable underlying dark profile, and herbs.  There are very fine, quality tannins.  We found notes of tobacco in the aftertaste. ***(*) 2015-2020.

2007 Hecht & Bannier, Minervois

September 14, 2011 1 comment

Hecht & Bannier is a negocient that specializes in producing wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon that are “the reference for quality in the region with a unique range of appellation wines.”  Four selections from the 2007 vintage received Parker scores of 90-94 points.  Back in April the Cotes du Roussillon-Villages became available so I quickly snagged a bottle then posted a review.  MacArthur’s recently put out bottles of the 2007 Hecht & Bannier, Minervois so once again I zipped over to snag a bottle.  I also grabbed another Cotes du Roussillon-Villages for comparison.

Vineyard Used by Hecht & Bannier, Image by Frederick Wildman & Sons (Flickr)

These wines are imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons and available at MacArthur’s.  The Minervois will set you back $17 and the Cotes du Roussillon-Villages $22.  They are both tasty wines and reasonably priced.  The Minervois was our favorite of the two, showing delineated fruit amongst the smooth body of the wine.  The Cotes du Roussillon-Villages is primarily Grenache (and I am an unabashed Grenache lover) but  the ripe nature spoke of both a ripe region and vintage.  The cherry/Kirsch notes, herbs, and cool minerality are all lovely but the restraint of the Minervois did a better job of showcasing the fruit.  While the bottle of Minervois was finished first I would still recommend both wines.  I really look forward to the 2009 vintage.

2007 Hecht & Bannier, Minervois
This wine is a blend of mostly Syrah, some Grenache, and a splash of Carignan and Mourvedre.  It was aged for two years in 30% tank with the rest in both new and old demi-muids and barrels.  This took several hours to open up.  The medium nose is Syrah driven with notes of pepper.  In the mouth there is creamy fruit all of the way through with herbs and sweet tannin flavors.  In the finish there are spices and fine tannins.  This is a rich wine but the black/blue fruits are lively and in no way cloying.  This should drink well for the medium-term. ***(*) Now-2022.

Two Strong Values From Mustiguillo and Monjardin

September 14, 2011 3 comments

This summer we have drunk several bottles of each of these wines.  I have intended to post about these selections for quite some time but find that I keep drinking the wine without taking notes.  There is a combination of factors that have caused such laziness!!!  They are quite tasty, readily available, and are affordable so I know I can always write my tasting notes based on the next bottles we purchase. The Mustiguillo shows more structure with its brambly fruit and the Monjardin is softer with notes of cedar.  Both of these wines deliver suprising complexity for the price.  The Mustiguillo is my favorite.  It is the type of wine that you may drink at dinner then right before you go to bed it haunts you.  So you take a glass to bed to drink with the lights turned out.  The blue fruits taste more expansive with a dark depth that only seem to reverberate when it is pitch black.

Old Vines at Bodegas Mustiguillo, Image by Raul Fenollar (flickr)

The Castillo de Monjardin is imported by Winebow Brands Inc. and available at MacArthur’s for $9.  The Bodegas Mustiguillo is imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars Selections and available at MacArthur’s for $15.  I recommend that you buy both of these wines.  Actually, I would buy a couple of bottles of each.

2009 Bodegas Mustiguillo, Mestis, La Tierra El Terrerazo
This wine is 50% Bobal, 30% Tempranillo with the remainder a mix of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.  The fruit is sourced from the Terrerazo vineyard which lies at 800 meters on soils of dolomite limestone with a sandy texture.  The wine was aged for ten months in French oak.  After one hour of air the wine becomes integrated and starts to flesh out.  There is a notes of buttery to the blue fruited nose.  In the mouth there are ample gritty red fruit and blue fruit mixed with spice in this savory wine.  It continues to put on complexity as it is drunk.  There is enough structure to age for the short-term. ***(*) Now-2017.

2009 Castillo de Monjardin, La Cantera, Garnacha, Navarra
This wine is 100% Grenache sourced from La Cantera vineyard where the vines are over 70 years old.  The wine was aged for six months in oak casks.  This wine drank great over two nights.  On the second nights the dark nose gives way to a mouth of red fruit, cedar, and herbs in a medium-body.  The tannins mix in providing good texture with supporting acidity.  With air flavors of sweet, red, hard candy develop.  This definitely needs several hours of air to open up.  A really strong $9 bottle. *** Now-2017.

Crozes-Hermitage From Domaine Les Bruyeres and Domaine du Colombier

September 13, 2011 2 comments

Washington, D.C. is a great city to buy wine.  There is a never-ending supply of new and old vintages at all price ranges in many of the wine stores.  The wealth of importers maintain a continual flow of interesting wines from all over the world.  This has enabled a great introduction to the 2009 Northern Rhone vintage by drinking the wines of Crozes-Hermitage.  The first 2009 Crozes-Hermitage that I drank was the 2009 Domaine Les Bruyeres, Cuvee Georges Reynaud which was excellent. With prices ranging from $17-$32 there is good 2009 Crozes for everyone to drink.  My one sober feeling is that the 2009 vintage appears so strong in the Northern Rhone that I hope I can afford to drink bottles from outside Crozes-Hermitage.

Route de Crozes, Image by Le Vin Parfait (flickr)

Over the past week we have drunk these two old-vine cuvees.  These wines were purchased from MacArthur’s.  The Colombier is imported by Kysela Pere et Fils and was purchased for $28.  The Bruyeres is imported by Elite Wines and was purchased for $32.  At this point in time I prefer the Colombier, with one hour of air it was such a pleasure to drink with more depth of flavor.  The Bruyeres was excellent as well but requires aging and I am not sure it has the same amount of potential.  While I recommend both wines, I give a nod to the Colombier because it is more complex and lower priced.

2009 Domaine du Colombier, Cuvee Gaby, Crozes-Hermitage
This is 100% Syrah sourced from old parcels.  This wine has a delicate, earthy nose with Jenn finding notes of tobacco and good, new tire scent.  This wine changed dramatically during the first hour.  Once open there were savory red fruit, racy/inky purple flavors, and dry herbs that rocket through the mouth.  There are grapey tannins in the finish and hard purple flavors in the aftertaste.  This is a youthful, concentrated wine that will surely age but is such a pleasure to drink right now. **** Now-2022.

2009 Domaine Les Bruyeres, Les Croix Vieilles Vignes, Crozes-Hermitage
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from 55-year-old vines.  It was aged for 12 month in barrel.  A lovely, medium strength nose.  In the mouth this youthful, textured wine contains ample fruit and spice.  The fresh fruit is grapey with pepper notes and spice on the back-end.  The light amount of very fine tannins, coat and dry in the aftertaste as they build up in the mouth.  This is well-balanced for aging. ***(*) Now-2022.

Three Crozes-Hermitage From Alain Graillot

September 12, 2011 1 comment

Jenn and I have been drinking a variety of Crozes-Hermitage from the excellent 2009 vintage.  I think we have drunk more bottles of Crozes this summer than in the few years prior.  Curious to try bottles with a wee bit of age we opened these three bottles.  These bottles were imported by Europvin and purchased at MacArthur’s a few years ago.

On the first night Jenn preferred the 2006 vintage with its smooth fruit and pepper notes while I preferred the darker nature of the 2005.  On the second night we rather enjoyed the 2004.  In the end I feel that the 2005 is the best of the bunch but all had pleasing aspects.  I would drink the 2004 right now, it is in a harmonious state and I do not see it gaining complexity.  The 2005 definitely needs time to gain mature flavors.  The 2006 could be drunk now for its youthfulness or aged alongside the 2005.

Alain Graillot's Vines in Crozes-Hermitage, Image by PWMWINE (flickr)

The grapes are sourced from almost 18 hectares of Crozes-Hermitage vineyard.  The vineyard is flat with soils of sand, gravel, and rocks.  According to John Livingstone-Learmonth, Alain harrows four times per year, which allows moisture to penetrate the soil, burns vine clippings on the spot, and lets grass grow in August.  These wines are 100% Syrah from fruit that was hand-harvested.  The whole bunch was fermented in concrete vats then aged for 12 months in 80% one to three-year old oak barrels and 20% in vat.

2004 Alain Graillot, Crozes-Hermitage
This sported a medium-strength nose.  The overall profile tilted towards herbs with slight notes of pepper.  This is clearly in a more mature state than the other two with notes of pencil, mature red fruit, and a simpler finish.  The nose was rather interesting though the flavors in the mouth were simpler in comparison.  This held up well on the second night and was the least changed of the three. **(*) Now-2019.

2005 Alain Graillot, Crozes-Hermitage
This vintage and the 2006 were the most similar.  The aromas of pepper on the nose followed through in the mouth.  The red fruit was darker in flavor with less of a grapey aspect.  There were notes of smoke and some dark roast.  On the second night it was fruitier than the 2006 with structured, drying tannins, and clean notes of pepper in the finish.  This is more intense than the 2006 with more depth to the fruit and potential for development. *** Now-2019.

2006 Alain Graillot, Crozes-Hermitage
My daughter smelled the wine and found “raspberries.”  This wine had a nice balance of red fruit and pepper.  The flavors were smoothly delivered and mixed with obvious fine tannins throughout.  On the second night the wine was full of pepper notes, dry fruit, powdery tannins, and flavors that thinned out in the aftertaste. ** Now-2017.